For this newsletter’s alumni spotlight, we wanted to highlight 3 alumnae connected by their career choices. Jaime Ziegler (D-SIP 2008), Chelsea Landry (D-SIP 2011), and Marah Casey (D-SIP 2011) have worked at the same nonprofit organizations. Chelsea and Jaime both worked at the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Fisher Foundation. Chelsea and Marah have both worked for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. And Jaime and Marah have both pursued MBAs from Ross! With all that they have shared career-wise, it is no surprise that they also have some shared learnings. We will share these after their intros!
After graduating in 2009, Jaime worked for the Fisher Foundation over the summer and then became the Fundraising Events Coordinator for the Chicago Children’s Museum for two and a half years. She then became the Donor Relations Manager at the Illinois Chapter of the Nature Conservancy for one and a half years. From there, she returned to Ann Arbor to get an MBA from Ross. Still connected to philanthropy, Jaime served as the graduate chair for the Student Campaign Committee. She graduated from Ross in 2015 and is back in Chicago where she works as a Senior Consultant in Deloitte’s Human Capital Practice specializing in the healthcare provider industry.
Marah graduated from U-M in 2012 and joined Teach For America-Detroit. She taught high school government, economics, and psychology for two years. After teaching, she joined the TFA-Detroit staff in a development position, combining her passion for education with her passion for fundraising. As the Specialist of External Affairs and Marketing, Marah managed the corporate and foundation portfolios and managed social media, donor marketing, and stewardship. This past July, she accepted a new position as the Advancement Officer of Institutional Giving at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) where she manages corporate, foundation, and government giving to the DSO. Marah, like Jaime was at one point, is also an MBA candidate.
And finally, we have Chelsea! In 2012, Chelsea graduated, spent a summer working in development at the Fisher Foundation, and then began to obtain her masters degree in Management of Human Services from the U-M School of
Social Work. Following her masters degree, she worked at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Children’s Museum for just over a year at each place. 2015 brought her back to Michigan and to the Fisher Foundation where she continues to work in development.
Now that you see how much their careers have overlapped, sometimes knowingly, sometimes not, let’s get to the shared takeaways.
- The Importance of Building Relationships
One of the greatest lessons Chelsea has learned is that relationships matter. “Working with integrity and supporting your team (whether that includes volunteers, coworkers, donors, or grant partners) is one of the most important things you can do.” Marah would agree that relationships are important, and her way of ensuring a quality relationship with her donors would be to focus on the personal connection.
- Build and Leverage Your Network!
One thing is clear about building personal relationships – sometimes you need to use them to help you grow. Leveraging your networks and D-SIP connections is sometimes key to success in a new fundraising role. When asked about her connection to Chelsea Landry through the Chicago Children’s Museum [CCM], Jaime stated, “I hadn’t met Chelsea before the Fisher Foundation, but was impressed that she leveraged her network to connect with me and was happy to recommend her to
the role at CCM. I trusted D-SIP’s selection process completely, and was confident that she would do well in the Fundraising Events Coordinator role after being vetted by so many professionals that I respect.” Chelsea went on to add, “I didn’t realize just how small the for-impact world was until I worked for a few years in the industry! It’s all the more reason to cultivate your professional relationships and to be intentional with your networking.” Reach out to your fellow alumni, and you might be surprised about the opportunities that open up for you!
- And you guessed it: It’s a Small World!
“It is a small world in nonprofits, particularly within our D-SIP family. I’ve been at a number of AFP [Association of Fundraising Professionals] events where I’ve run into other D-SIP alumni or met others who work in nonprofits alongside D-SIP alumni. I love being a part of a closeknit development community and D-SIP has without a doubt helped contribute to that,” says Marah Casey. The D-SIP family is now 241 strong! Alumni work nationally and internationally. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the size of the nonprofit sector, which is over 1 million organizations, come back to your D-SIP family to help make things a little smaller.